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Dust Draws $267K OSHA Fine

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

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A Texas cabinet maker is facing more than two dozen federal health and safety citations and $267,000 in fines for accumulations of combustible wood dust, painting booth violations, and other alleged hazards at its manufacturing facility.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced 29 repeat, serious and other-than-serious violations and a total of $267,434 in fines against Cardell Cabinetry LLC for allegedly failing to remove hazardous levels of combustible dust at the company's facility in San Antonio.

OSHA's San Antonio Area Office initiated the February inspection as both a follow-up and complaint inspection.

Cardell Cabinetry
Photos: Cardell Cabinetry

Founded in 1976, Cardell Cabinetry is one of the largest privately owned cabinet makers in the U.S.

Founded in 1976, Cardell Cabinetry specializes in kitchen cabinet manufacturing and employs about 1,100 workers. The company is one of the largest privately owned cabinet makers in the U.S.

The company said it was "disappointed" by the citations and expected to meet with OSHA to discuss them.

Repeat, Serious Citations

The three repeat violations, with a penalty of $99,000, allege failure to remove combustible wood dust, cover electrical boxes, and reduce the pressure of compressed air. A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation within the last five years. OSHA cited similar violations (referenced here and here) last year at the company.

A failure-to-abate violation, with a penalty of $34,034, was cited because the employer failed to remove combustible wood dust from the parts mill area, OSHA said. The same violation was cited in 2012. A failure-to-abate notice applies to a condition, hazard or practice that, found upon re-inspection at the employer site, was the same as originally cited and not corrected.

Some of the 24 serious safety and health violations, with a penalty of $134,400, allege failure to:

  • Provide adequate guarding on machinery;
  • Ensure electrical knockouts were covered;
  • Provide required personal protective equipment;
  • Administer audiometric exams to affected workers;
  • Lockout or tagout energy sources;
  • Ensure loads were secured and stable to prevent shifting; and
  • Provide an effective hearing conservation program.

Some of the alleged violations involve painters. According to OSHA, painters were not wearing protective clothing while working in spray booths, painters' respirators were not fit tested (an other-than-serious violation), and there was no hearing conservation program for sanders and spray booth operators.

Cardell Cabinetry

The citations involve Cardell's San Antonio, TX, facility (pictured in 2004).

A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Company Response

A company representative issued this statement on behalf of Cardell Cabinetry. The statement was prepared the day after the company received the citations.

"At Cardell Cabinetry, employee safety always has been, and will continue to be, our top priority.

"Yesterday, we received notice that OSHA has issued citations involving our San Antonio plant. During OSHA’s lengthy inspection, we cooperated fully and provided open access to our entire plant and safety records.

"While we were disappointed to learn that some citations have been issued, we do not believe that any of our employees were exposed to a risk of harm. OSHA’s investigation was not the result of a workplace accident or injury.

"We expect to request a meeting with OSHA to discuss the citations, which we feel were based upon a misunderstanding of our safety practices and misinterpretation of safety compliance data we voluntarily produced.

"We will make every effort to reevaluate and improve our safety program, while at the same time providing a safe work environment for the hundreds of employees we employ at our plant on a daily basis."  

Combustible Dust Dangers

Combustible dusts include fine particles, fibers, chips, chunks or flakes that, under certain conditions, can cause a fire or explosion when suspended in air. Types of dusts include metal (for example, aluminum and magnesium), wood, plastic, rubber, coal, flour, sugar and paper.

"The sizable penalties proposed here reflect the severity of the various hazardous conditions found at this facility, including the accumulation of combustible dust that can lead to a needless catastrophic incident," said Kelly C. Knighton, director of OSHA's San Antonio Area Office.

"The fact that such an incident has not occurred does not absolve Cardell Cabinetry of its responsibility to find and eliminate hazards that could endanger workers' lives."

OSHA offers additional information and resources for preventing and minimizing the effects of combustible dust fires and explosions here.


Tagged categories: Combustible Dust; Enforcement; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; OSHA; Respirators; Sanding and hand tool cleaning; Spray booths

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